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Facebook

Zuckerberg Grilled At Angry Facebook Shareholder's Meeting (mercurynews.com) 165

An anonymous reader quotes the Mercury News' report on Facebook's annual shareholder's meeting: On Thursday in Menlo Park, one investor compared the social network's poor stewardship of user data to a human rights violation. Another warned that scandal is not good for Facebook's bottom line. And one advised Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to emulate George Washington, not Vladimir Putin, and avoid turning Facebook into a "corporate dictatorship." Facebook struggled to keep order, kicking one woman out of the meeting within the first few minutes for repeated interruptions. A plane zipped overhead pulling a banner that read "YOU BROKE DEMOCRACY" and advertising Freedom From Facebook, a group of privacy and anti-monopoly activists that are pressing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to break up the company...

Zuckerberg repeated the same reassurances he used in front of U.S. and European lawmakers earlier this year: The company hasn't taken a broad enough view of its responsibility... "We're also very focused on being more transparent," Zuckerberg said, touting the fact that the company had just posted its policies on content moderation for the first time. Minutes earlier, the company announced that shareholder proposals for more transparency and oversight had failed, surprising no one. Zuckerberg controls the company through special stock that gives him more votes than other shareholders.

"Facebook said that just because the proposals were blocked, that didn't mean the company doesn't care about these issues."
IT

Are Tech Conferences Overrated? (cnn.com) 109

"The tech industry has reached a maximum saturation point for conferences, summits and forums," writes CNN's senior media reporter, sharing his general disillusionment after Recode's recent Code Conference: But even at their best, these events fail to generate truly significant news because executives have been media-trained to the point of impenetrability... [S]peakers like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek have mastered the art -- there should be a German word for it -- of speaking for 30+ minutes without saying much of consequence or going beyond their comfort zone... [I]n two days, nothing was said on stage that fundamentally changed the existing narrative for any of these companies... Business executives are more strategic and more cautious than ever in how they speak publicly. The business media needs to be equally strategic in pushing them to say more.
He argues that the best things about conferences happen offstage, when attendees network and talk among themselves. Is that your experience, Slashdot readers?

Share your own thoughts in the comments. Are tech conferences overrated?
Advertising

Apple Is Reportedly Eyeing the Ad Business (cnbc.com) 38

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The Wall Street Journal has published a new report detailing one thing we might expect to see on stage at WWDC next week: a digital ad platform expansion. According to the Journal, Apple has been in talks with major apps including Snapchat and Pinterest about the project: "Over the past year, Apple has met with Snap Inc., Pinterest Inc. and other companies about participating in an Apple network that would distribute ads across their collective apps, the people said. Apple would share revenue with the apps displaying the ads, with the split varying from app to app, they said."

The report adds that the new ad effort would expand on the "nearly $1 billion" business of search ads, which it introduced to the App Store in 2016. In addition to app ads being display in search results in the App Store, developers could include advertisements in search results within their own apps: "Under the concept discussed internally and raised with potential partners, users searching in Pinterest's app for 'drapes' might turn up an ad distributed by Apple for an interior-design app, or Snap users searching for 'NFL' might see an ad for a ticket-reseller app, one of the people said."

Facebook

Facebook Is Killing Off Trending As It Tries To Revamp Newsfeed (betanews.com) 55

Mark Wilson writes: Facebook has announced plans to kill off the Trending feature of its newsfeed. The social network says that this is to "make way for future news experiences." Over the years, Facebook has experimented endlessly with the presentation of news, and has faced criticism for failing to weed out "fake news" and also accusations of liberal bias. Now the company wants to find new ways to help people find news that matters to them, ensuring that it comes from reliable sources.
Businesses

Facebook, Amazon, and Hundreds of Companies Post Targeted Job Ads That Screen Out Older Workers (vox.com) 169

Older workers are accusing Facebook, Ikea, and hundreds of other companies for discriminating against job seekers in their 50s and 60s through targeted job ads posted on Facebook. From a report: The Communications Workers of America, a labor union representing 700,000 media workers across the country, added the companies to a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday, which was filed in California federal court in December. In its original complaint, the labor union accused Amazon, T-Mobile, and Cox Media Group of doing the same thing. The case, Bradley v. T-Mobile, has major implications for US employers, who routinely buy job ads on Facebook to reach users. The plaintiffs argue that Amazon, T-Mobile, Ikea, Facebook, and hundreds of other companies target the ads so they are only seen by younger Facebook users.

The lawsuit revolves around Facebook's unique business model, which lets advertisers micro-target the network's users based on their interests, city, age, and other demographic information. In the past, equal rights advocates have sued Facebook for accepting ads that discriminate against consumers based on their religion, race, and gender. Facebook has argued that the company is not legally responsible when other companies buy ads that violate the law.

Facebook

Now Even Russian Lawmakers Want a Piece of Mark Zuckerberg (qz.com) 73

PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from Quartz: In an ironic twist in the saga of Facebook's troubles, Russian lawmakers have declared that they, too, would like to question Mark Zuckerberg. According to the Moscow Times, senator Anton Belyakov yesterday offered to invite the Facebook CEO to address the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. "After all, he spoke about information security, not giving access to personal data, preventing the dissemination of harmful content," Belyakov reportedly said, referring to Zuckerberg's meetings with the U.S. Congress and European Parliament. Another reason for those meetings was to discuss whether the social network facilitated Russian meddling in foreign elections.

The U.S. company is in trouble with Russian authorities for disobeying a 2015 law that requires it to store the data of Russian citizens on the country's soil. In April, the state communications watchdog threatened that if Facebook didn't comply, it would face the same fate as LinkedIn, which was banned in the country last year. Much to the chagrin of UK politicians, he (Zuckerberg) has not agreed to multiple calls, and even a mild threat, to testify in front of a UK parliamentary committee.

Youtube

America's Teens Are Choosing YouTube Over Facebook (bloomberg.com) 78

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Three years ago, Facebook was the dominant social media site among U.S. teens, visited by 71 percent of people in that magic, trendsetting demographic. Not anymore. Now only 51 percent of kids ages 13-17 use Facebook, according to Pew Research Center. The world's largest social network has finally been eclipsed in popularity by YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram. Alphabet Inc.'s YouTube is the most popular, used by 85 percent of teens, according to Pew.

Instagram is slightly more popular than Snapchat overall, Pew said, with 72 percent of respondents saying they use the photo-sharing app, compared with Snapchat's 69 percent. But Snap Inc. is holding its own, despite Instagram's frequent parroting of its features. About one-third of the survey's respondents said they visit Snapchat and YouTube most often, while 15 percent said Instagram is their most frequent destination. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of teens said Facebook is their most-used online platform. The Pew analysis was based on a survey of 1,058 parents who have a teenager from 13 to 17, as well as interviews with 743 teens themselves.
The survey also found that 99% of teens own a smartphone or have access to one, and 45% said they're online "on a near-constant basis."
Security

Valve Patches Security Bug That Existed in Steam Client for the Past Ten Years (bleepingcomputer.com) 77

Valve developers have recently patched a severe security flaw that affected all versions of the Steam gaming client released in the past ten years. From a report: According to Tom Court, a security researcher with Context Information Security, the one who discovered the flaw, the vulnerability would have allowed an attacker to execute malicious code on any of Steam's 15 million gaming clients. In the jargon of security researchers, this is a remote code execution (RCE) flaw because exploitation was possible via network requests, without needing access to the victim's computer. Court says an attacker was only required to send malformed UDP packets to a target's Steam client, which would have triggered the bug and allowed him to run malicious code on the target's PC.
AI

AI Better Than Dermatologists At Detecting Skin Cancer, Study Finds (cbsnews.com) 60

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: For the first time, new research suggests artificial intelligence may be better than highly-trained humans at detecting skin cancer. A study conducted by an international team of researchers pitted experienced dermatologists against a machine learning system, known as a deep learning convolutional neural network, or CNN, to see which was more effective at detecting malignant melanomas. The results? 'Most dermatologists were outperformed by the CNN,' the researchers wrote in their report, published in the journal Annals of Oncology. Fifty-eight dermatologists from 17 countries around the world participated in the study. More than half of the doctors were considered expert level with more than five years' experience. Nineteen percent said they had between two to five years' experience, and 29 percent had less than two years' experience. At first look, dermatologists correctly detected an average of 87 percent of melanomas, and accurately identified an average of 73 percent of lesions that were not malignant. Conversely, the CNN correctly detected 95 percent of melanomas. The study has been published in the journal Annals of Oncology.
Businesses

Snapchat CEO Says Facebook Copied Its Features, But Not Its Values (axios.com) 30

Snapchat's CEO, Evan Spiegel, told an industry crowd that he doesn't obsess over Facebook's habit of adapting his social network's ideas. From a report: "I think it bothers my wife more than it bothers me," Spiegel said at the Code Conference Tuesday evening. "Fundamentally, it is important to understand that Snapchat is not just a bunch of features." [...] Referencing Snapchat's most famous feature -- posts vanish after 24 hours -- Spiegel quipped, "Maybe Facebook should copy Snapchat's data retention policies."
Facebook

Papua New Guinea Bans Facebook For a Month To Root Out 'Fake Users' (theguardian.com) 86

The Papua New Guinean government will ban Facebook for a month in a bid to crack down on "fake users" and study the effects the website is having on the population. From a report: The communication minister, Sam Basil, said the shutdown would allow his department's analysts to carry out research and analysis on who was using the platform, and how they were using it, admits rising concerns about social well-being, security and productivity. "The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed," Basil told the Post Courier newspaper. "This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly." Basil has repeatedly raised concerns about protecting the privacy of PNG's Facebook users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, which found Facebook had leaked the personal data of tens of millions of users to a private company. The minister has closely followed the US Senate inquiry into Facebook.
Network

There Are Real Reasons For Linux To Replace ifconfig, netstat and Other Classic Tools (utoronto.ca) 478

Several readers have shared a blog post: One of the ongoing system administration controversies in Linux is that there is an ongoing effort to obsolete the old, cross-Unix standard network administration and diagnosis commands of ifconfig, netstat and the like and replace them with fresh new Linux specific things like ss and the ip suite. Old sysadmins are generally grumpy about this; they consider it yet another sign of Linux's 'not invented here' attitude that sees Linux breaking from well-established Unix norms to go its own way. Although I'm an old sysadmin myself, I don't have this reaction. Instead, I think that it might be both sensible and honest for Linux to go off in this direction. There are two reasons for this, one ostensible and one subtle.

The ostensible surface issue is that the current code for netstat, ifconfig, and so on operates in an inefficient way. Per various people, netstat et al operate by reading various files in /proc, and doing this is not the most efficient thing in the world (either on the kernel side or on netstat's side). You won't notice this on a small system, but apparently there are real impacts on large ones. Modern commands like ss and ip use Linux's netlink sockets, which are much more efficient. In theory netstat, ifconfig, and company could be rewritten to use netlink too; in practice this doesn't seem to have happened and there may be political issues involving different groups of developers with different opinions on which way to go.

(Netstat and ifconfig are part of net-tools, while ss and ip are part of iproute2.)

However, the deeper issue is the interface that netstat, ifconfig, and company present to users. In practice, these commands are caught between two masters. On the one hand, the information the tools present and the questions they let us ask are deeply intertwined with how the kernel itself does networking, and in general the tools are very much supposed to report the kernel's reality. On the other hand, the users expect netstat, ifconfig and so on to have their traditional interface (in terms of output, command line arguments, and so on); any number of scripts and tools fish things out of ifconfig output, for example. As the Linux kernel has changed how it does networking, this has presented things like ifconfig with a deep conflict; their traditional output is no longer necessarily an accurate representation of reality.

The Almighty Buck

Companies Are Using California Homes As Batteries To Power the Grid (qz.com) 208

"Companies like Tesla and SunRun are starting to bid on utility contracts that would allow them to string together dozens or hundreds of systems that act as an enormous reserve to balance the flow of electricity on the grid," reports Quartz. "Doing so would accelerate the grid's transformation from 20th century hub-and-spoke architecture to a transmission network moving electricity among thousands or millions of customers who generate and store their own power." From the report: In theory, networked home-solar-and-battery systems, acting in coordination over a single geographical area, could replace things like natural gas "peaker" plants need to help support the grid on a moment's notice. But it's an open question whether it makes financial sense. Kamath says renewable mandates could keep home solar-storage solutions for the grid going for a while, but the idea will have to prove itself on the market, perhaps by aggregating large areas, if it wants to seriously compete with existing energy assets.

SunRun told investors in 2017 that its pilot programs suggest it could competitively generate $2,000 worth of services by managing electricity flow back to the grid. The company has recently dropped its combative stance with utilities dragging their feet on accepting home solar. Instead, it's pursuing cooperation with the utilities now, in hopes of selling them home-based power. That would allow it grab a chunk of the billions being spent on modernizing the grid. "We don't want to be in a position of building two competing infrastructures," SunRun's Jurich said.

Wireless Networking

FBI Tells Router Users To Reboot Now To Kill Malware Infecting 500,000 Devices (arstechnica.com) 84

The FBI is advising users of consumer-grade routers and network-attached storage devices to reboot them as soon as possible to counter Russian-engineered malware that has infected hundreds of thousands devices. Ars Technica reports: Researchers from Cisco's Talos security team first disclosed the existence of the malware on Wednesday. The detailed report said the malware infected more than 500,000 devices made by Linksys, Mikrotik, Netgear, QNAP, and TP-Link. Known as VPNFilter, the malware allowed attackers to collect communications, launch attacks on others, and permanently destroy the devices with a single command. The report said the malware was developed by hackers working for an advanced nation, possibly Russia, and advised users of affected router models to perform a factory reset, or at a minimum to reboot. Later in the day, The Daily Beast reported that VPNFilter was indeed developed by a Russian hacking group, one known by a variety of names, including Sofacy, Fancy Bear, APT 28, and Pawn Storm. The Daily Beast also said the FBI had seized an Internet domain VPNFilter used as a backup means to deliver later stages of the malware to devices that were already infected with the initial stage 1. The seizure meant that the primary and secondary means to deliver stages 2 and 3 had been dismantled, leaving only a third fallback, which relied on attackers sending special packets to each infected device.

The redundant mechanisms for delivering the later stages address a fundamental shortcoming in VPNFilter -- stages 2 and 3 can't survive a reboot, meaning they are wiped clean as soon as a device is restarted. Instead, only stage 1 remains. Presumably, once an infected device reboots, stage 1 will cause it to reach out to the recently seized ToKnowAll.com address. The FBI's advice to reboot small office and home office routers and NAS devices capitalizes on this limitation. In a statement published Friday, FBI officials suggested that users of all consumer-grade routers, not just those known to be vulnerable to VPNFilter, protect themselves.
The Justice Department and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have also issued statements advising users to reboot their routers as soon as possible.
Security

Vulnerability in Z-Wave Wireless Communications Protocol, Used By Some IoT and Smart Devices, Exposes 100 Million Devices To Attack (bleepingcomputer.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes: The Z-Wave wireless communications protocol used for some IoT/smart devices is vulnerable to a downgrade attack that can allow a malicious party to intercept and tamper with traffic between smart devices. The attack -- codenamed Z-Shave -- relies on tricking two smart devices that are pairing into thinking one of them does not support the newer S-Wave S2 security features, forcing both to use the older S0 security standard.

The Z-Shave attack is dangerous because devices paired via an older version of Z-Wave can become a point of entry for an attacker into a larger network, or can lead to the theft of personal property. While this flaw might prove frivolous for some devices in some scenarios, it is a big issue for others -- such as smart door locks, alarm systems, or any Z-Wave-capable device on the network of a large corporation. The company behind the Z-Wave protocol tried to downplay the attack's significance, but its claims were knocked down by researchers in a video.

Facebook

Facebook Accused of Conducting Mass Surveillance Through Its Apps (theguardian.com) 93

A court case in California alleges that Facebook used its apps to gather information about users and their friends, including some who had not signed up to the social network, reading their text messages, tracking their locations and accessing photos on their phones. The Guardian reports: The claims of what would amount to mass surveillance are part of a lawsuit brought against the company by the former startup Six4Three, listed in legal documents filed at the superior court in San Mateo as part of a court case that has been ongoing for more than two years. The allegations about surveillance appear in a January filing, the fifth amended complaint made by Six4Three. It alleges that Facebook used a range of methods, some adapted to the different phones that users carried, to collect information it could use for commercial purposes.

"Facebook continued to explore and implement ways to track users' location, to track and read their texts, to access and record their microphones on their phones, to track and monitor their usage of competitive apps on their phones, and to track and monitor their calls," one court document says. But all details about the mass surveillance scheme have been redacted on Facebook's request in Six4Three's most recent filings. Facebook claims these are confidential business matters. It has until next Tuesday to submit a claim to the court for the documents to remain sealed from public view.

Network

Pornhub Launches VPNhub, Its Own Virtual Private Network App (venturebeat.com) 68

"Adult entertainment" giant Pornhub is entering the busy virtual private network (VPN) space with the launch of its very own VPN service. From a report: Dubbed VPNhub, the new service is available for free via native apps on Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows, though there is a premium subscription available that gets rid of the ads and promises faster speeds. In the U.S., this will cost between $12 and $14 per month, depending on the platform. VPNhub promises unlimited bandwidth, even on the free service, which is key given that Pornhub's core selling point is bandwidth-intensive video, while it offers around 1,000 servers across 15 countries. And it promises that it logs no user data.
Businesses

Comcast Confirms Plan To Buy 21st Century Fox and Control of Hulu (arstechnica.com) 65

Comcast is reportedly preparing an offer to buy major portions of 21st Century Fox, which would give it majority control of Hulu and other media properties. Ars Technica reports: Walt Disney Company already has a $52.4 billion all-stock deal to buy the 21st Century Fox properties. But Comcast was rumored to be lining up $60 billion in financing in order to make a hostile bid for the Fox assets, and Comcast's announcement today confirms it. Comcast "is considering, and is in advanced stages of preparing, an offer for the businesses that Fox has agreed to sell to Disney," Comcast's announcement said. Comcast is working on the offer in preparation for shareholder meetings in which the Disney/Fox deal will be considered.

The Fox properties for sale do not include assets such as the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Broadcasting Company. Those properties would be spun off into a company being referred to as "New Fox," and Comcast would acquire 21st Century Fox after the spinoff. The Fox sale to either Disney or Comcast would include 21st Century Fox's film and television studios; cable entertainment networks; the Fox Sports Regional Networks; and international properties including Star in India and Fox's 39-percent ownership of Sky across Europe. The sale would also include Fox's 30-percent stake in Hulu, the popular online video streaming service. Comcast already owns 30 percent of Hulu, so a deal with Fox would give the nation's largest cable company majority control over the online video provider.

Facebook

Facebook Asks British Users To Submit Their Nudes as Protection Against Revenge Porn (betanews.com) 303

Mark Wilson writes: Following on from a trial in Australia, Facebook is rolling out anti-revenge porn measures to the UK. In order that it can protect British users from failing victim to revenge porn, the social network is asking them to send in naked photos of themselves. The basic premise of the idea is: send us nudes, and we'll stop others from seeing them .
United States

NYC Transit Boss Unveils Sweeping 10-Year Subway Modernization Plan (nbcnewyork.com) 63

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping plan to modernize the city's subway system over the next 10 years. From a report: The proposal, which new New York City Transit President Andy Byford called "Fast Forward," centers on overhauling the mass transit network's signaling system -- some of which dates back to the early 20th century -- 30 years sooner than current Subway Action Plan.

But it won't come without a good bit of pain: sources told News 4 that Byford's plan would require entire lines to be taken out of service during overnight and weekend hours for extended periods. Byford -- who took over the task of running the city's subways and buses earlier this year -- said in an MTA meeting Wednesday that the work would be split into two five-year chunks. Over the first five years parts or all of the 4,5, 6, E, F, M, R, A, C, E and G lines would receive modern signaling systems. That would include the entirety of the Lexington Avenue line, which carries the 4, 5 and 6 trains and is the most-used mass transit line in the United States.

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